The Escape from Life to Truth

Reimagining Josiah Henson and His Autobiographies


  • Kiefer Holland



Whilst The Life of Josiah Henson (1849), the first autobiography of the formerly enslaved founder of the Dawn Settlement in Canada, declares that it was recorded by a white amanuensis, the second, Truth Stranger than Fiction (1858), lists no author except Henson. Despite Truth’s lack of a proclaimed amanuensis, the authorship of the text has become contested ground, with the critical consensus appearing to be that Truth, like Life, was written by a white amanuensis. As an intervention in this debate, this article performs a comparative literary analysis on Life and Truth to consider what the differences between them can teach us about the authorship of Truth